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Go Solar: The new mantra

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By Ila Garg

Opting for renewable energy is fast becoming the new trend. Every other household is finally seeing the benefits of solar energy: a source of electricity that is renewable, off-the-grid, clean, distributed and most importantly, affordable.

India can be most benefited from this renewable energy as more than half of the population still lives in rural areas where the grid cannot reach. These remote areas have therefore never seen electricity. They are lurking in the darkness as the world progresses each day. Now, India can finally move out of the darkness and into light, with at least 55 cities being developed as solar cities.

Taking a step towards solarising India, on Thursday, Delhi Power Minister Satyendra Jain released a Delhi Solar Energy Policy 2015 draft. This Policy aims at generating 1,000 MW of solar power in the next five years. This will help in resolving power cut worries quite easily.

SolarPanels

At an event at the secretariat, Satyendra Jain remarked, “To promote solar energy, solar panels will be installed on the roof-tops of every government building and we’ll start with the Delhi Secretariat.”

The minister also revealed that a tender for 5MW solar power generation has been floated. “We have a target to generate 1,000 MW of solar power in the next five years and 2,000 MW by 2025,” he said.

He further added, “This solar policy will promote a rapid growth of solar power, especially from the roof-top source, via a combination of generation targets, regulations, mandate and incentives. This will also promote net-metering and grid connectivity for all solar plants.”

If all goes well, very soon, every household in Delhi will not only have access to an uninterrupted power supply but also save on the electricity bills.

Earlier, the Rajasthan government had approved of an investment of Rs. 1.56 lakh crore in the solar power sector. Sighting the benefits of solar power, the world’s first 12 MW solar power plant was inaugurated by Kerala’s chief minister at the Kochi airport. No wonder the newest metro line added to Delhi metro is NCR’s first solar equipped metro line.

Overseas, China too has already started building its largest solar plant to meet its voluptuous power needs. That’s not all. The enormous usage of this clean, green energy will leave you astonished; the first solar-powered aircraft Solar Impulse 2, made its first successful flight on 3 July, 2015.

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The initial installation cost is a little on the higher side. However, since the cost can be recovered in a span of a few years, it remains a lucrative deal. Also, the enormous benefits cannot be ignored. What makes solar power the talk of the town is the fact that it is 100% eco-friendly and can reach the areas where the grid cannot.

Does that mean we will see a solar world soon?

Next Story

Pakistan Removes Taxes From Manufacture of Renewable To Overcome Power Shortage

That might be resolved in part by the government starting a certification system for renewable energy products to grade them according to quality, he said.

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Pakistan
Technicians work on a solar panel about 25 km (15 miles) from Karachi, Pakistan, June 18, 2010. VOA

Pakistan’s government has proposed to eliminate taxes associated with manufacturing of solar and wind energy equipment in the country, in an effort to boost the production and use of renewable power and overcome power shortages.

A new government budget bill, expected to be approved in parliament within a month, would give renewable energy manufacturers and assemblers in the country a five-year exemption from the taxes.

“Pakistan is paying the heavy cost of an ongoing energy crisis prevailing for the last many years,” Finance Minister Asad Umar said last week in a budget speech. “In this difficult time, the promotion of renewable energy resources like wind and solar has become indispensable.”

Only about 5 to 6 percent of the power to Pakistan’s national electrical grid currently comes from renewable energy, according to the country’s Alternate Energy Development Board (AEDB).

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 The rooftop photovoltaic installation supports the Department of DefenseÕs goal of increasing renewable energy sources to 25 percent of all energy consumed by the year 2025. 

The proposed tax reduction should boost that by encouraging greater local manufacturing of equipment needed for renewable power expansion, said Asad Mahmood, a renewable energy expert with the National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority, which sits within the Ministry of Energy.

Remaining hurdles

But manufacturers said the tax breaks likely would not be sufficient to spur expansion of local renewable energy industries.

Naeem Siddiqui, the chairman of Ebox Systems, which assembles solar panels in Islamabad, said the new tax breaks were good news but Pakistani manufacturers would still struggle to compete with tax-free, low-priced imports of foreign-built solar panels and other renewable energy equipment.

“The government has already waived off taxes and duties on the import of renewable energy products, and local manufacturers cannot compete with the low-priced imported items,” he said.

Pakistan today imports more than 95 percent of the solar panels and other renewable energy systems it uses, largely from China, said Aamir Hussain, chief executive officer of Tesla PV, one of the largest manufacturers of solar energy products in Pakistan.

Solar panels
Workers install photovoltaic solar panels at the Gujarat solar park under construction in Charanka village in Patan district of the western Indian state of Gujarat, India. India is planning new large-scale installations of the technology on hydropower reservoirs and other water bodies in Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand states, and in the Lakshadweep islands. VOA

“As long as the government will not impose duties on the import of finished products, the local market cannot grow,” he said.

Pakistani manufacturers also might need government help in pushing sales of new Pakistani clean energy products abroad, in order to build bigger markets and lower manufacturing costs, Siddiqui said.

Mahmood, of the energy ministry, said he believed the government would also move to cut existing duties on the import of components used in manufacturing finished renewable energy products, in order to help Pakistani manufacturers.

Taxes on those components have pushed up prices of Pakistani-made renewable energy systems, making them harder to sell and leading several companies to the brink of failure, he said.

Certification system

Local manufacturers should work with the government to determine which components should be manufactured locally and which imported to ensure costs of locally made wind and solar systems are competitive, he said.

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A man waits to cross a portion of track once shared with the Karachi Circular Railway line in Karachi, Pakistan. VOA

Muhammad Abdur Rahman, managing director of Innosol, a company that imports and installs renewable energy systems, said that cheap imports of renewable energy systems from China remain the main barrier to building more such systems in Pakistan.

“The local industry is facing pricing issues because of low-quality solar energy appliances being imported in the country that are very cheap as compared to the local market,” he said.

Also Read: Pakistan Appoints its First Ever Female Hindu Civil Judge

That might be resolved in part by the government starting a certification system for renewable energy products to grade them according to quality, he said.

Amjad Ali Awan, chief executive officer of the Alternate Energy Development Board, said the aim of the new policies was for renewable energy to supply 28 to 30 percent of the country’s national electrical grid by 2030. (VOA)